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Awards for World Music 2008 - Album of the Year
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba 'Segou Blue'
Segu Blue
Segu Blue
Out Here OH007


Is the ngoni, the West African lute said to be a forerunner to the banjo, destined to be the bridesmaid of instruments, forever playing the support rôle to the guitar and kora? Not if its finest exponent has any say in the matter.

Bassekou Kouyaté, the lead ngoni player who provided that essential crisp, atmospheric foundation to the late Ali Farka Touré's imperious Savane album (amongst others) last year, has incorporated a quartet of players into an ensemble that draws out the full versatility of the instrument. It's the subtle differences that set this instrument apart. The scratchy, rustic prompting behind the slower, blues-soaked numbers will be familiar enough to many, and it works beautifully as a contrast to the sweet harmonies of Kouyaté's wife Ami Sacko and Ma Soumano. But at times you'd swear that a kora player had sneaked into the studio during some of the Bamana dance songs, such are the surprisingly intricate melodies being teased out of the instrument. The throb of the bass ngoni (a sound between the soft slap of a double bass and the rudimentary beat from a North African guimbri) and interplay between the rest of the quartet creates momentum that only the subtlest of percussion need support. And aided by guest appearances from Kasse Mady Diabaté, soku (horse-hair fiddle) player Zoumana Tereta and Lobi Traore, Segu Blue brings this evocative instrument - and the Malian Bamana tradition from which it hails - firmly back centre-stage.

Con Murphy (review from fRoots 285, March 2007)

www.outhere.de; distributed by Proper.
fRoots magazine
CD Review on BBC Music
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Judith Nottingham
Great, my first hearing, looking forward to the album.

Manfred, Bamako
Seen him years ago, in Segou. He has a great smile that he cannot hide. A week ago again in Segou his BBC prize was announced on the local Festival sur le Niger. Indeed he deserves it.

Melanie - Ireland
Blissful, Melodic, Balm for the Heart & Soul. Thankyou

It is overwhelming, music for the soul...

C Reddy
what a great album. best i've heard in years.

This is great news! Well deserved for the album is fantastic. Congratulations to Bassekou, Amy and all group members, to Jay and Lucy and to Chetna! For anyone who hasn´t seen this group perform live: Go and See! Bassekou & Ngoni Ba Rock on stage!

Fantastic! Well deserved-way to go Bassekou!

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